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Miami Hurricanes promote Ephraim Banda and Jonathan Patke to Co-DCs, Jess Simpson to Associate Head Coach

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Miami stays in-house for their new DCs.

NCAA Football: Miami at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes’ search for a DC to replace Manny Diaz is over. The Canes have promoted both Ephraim Banda and Jonathan Patke to Co-Defensive Coordinators. Additionally, DL coach Jess Simpson has been promoted to Associate Head Coach.

Here’s the announcement from Miami Athletics:

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Head coach Mark Richt announced Friday that the University of Miami football program has named Ephraim Banda and Jonathan Patke as co-defensive coordinators, and promoted Jess Simpson to associate head coach/defensive line.

Banda has served as UM’s safeties coach since 2016. Patke originally came to Miami as a defensive quality control analyst in 2016 before taking over as outside linebackers coach this season. Simpson arrived in Coral Gables this past March as defensive line coach.

“Our defensive unit is coming off an outstanding season and Coach Banda, Coach Patke and Coach Simpson were instrumental figures to that success,” Richt said. “Coach Banda and Coach Patke are both terrific teachers, motivators and recruiters, and I’m confident the determination and energy they bring to this program every day will help them continue to thrive in their new roles.

“In addition, Coach Simpson did a remarkable job with our defensive front this season. He is an excellent teacher, motivator and technician, and I’m excited to elevate him to Associate Head Coach. Being a long-time head coach himself, Coach Simpson can also assist me with big picture initiatives for our program.

“All of these coaches are men of high character who not only know our defensive terminology and standards, but who will keep our players competing at a high level. I am committed to continuing the legacy of great defense here at the University of Miami and I am confident these moves will ensure that success going forward.”

In 2018, Banda, Patke and Simpson – along with cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph -- helped Miami’s defense rank first in the nation in passing defense, third-down conversion defense and tackles for loss. UM also ranked second nationally in total defense, and third in passing efficiency defense. The Hurricanes’ 126 tackles for loss were the second-most in school history, trailing only the 1999 team (130).

As safeties coach, Banda helped Miami allow just 140.8 yards per game through the air in 2018. Senior safety Jaquan Johnson twice earned second-team All-ACC honors, leading the Hurricanes in tackles the past two seasons, including a career-high 96 tackles in 2017. He was also a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2018. Fellow senior safety Sheldrick Redwine earned honorable mention All-ACC honors this season after collecting 57 tackles and a career-best three interceptions.

Banda came to Miami after one season as a defensive assistant at Mississippi State and three seasons as a graduate assistant at Texas. He launched his coaching career in 2010 as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Incarnate Word, where he played safety.

As outside linebackers coach, Patke helped direct one of the top linebacker groups in the country, which included junior All-ACC performer Shaquille Quarterman. Patke was key in integrating the new “striker” position into Miami’s defense this season, which provided immediate dividends. Juniors Zach McCloud and Romeo Finley combined for 72 tackles and nine tackles for loss at strongside linebacker.

Patke arrived in Coral Gables after spending the 2015 season as a graduate assistant at Mississippi State. He previously spent one season as a graduate assistant at Louisiana Tech in 2014 after a two-year stint as a graduate assistant at Incarnate Word. Patke was a three-year starter at linebacker at Stephen F. Austin.

Simpson oversaw one of the nation’s best defensive line units in 2018. Senior defensive tackle Gerald Willis III earned second-team All-America honors from the Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America and Sports Illustrated, racking up a career-high 59 tackles and four sacks, including 18 tackles for loss -- the most in the nation by a defensive tackle.

Defensive ends Joe Jackson and Jonathan Garvin also posted stellar numbers under Simpson’s guidance in 2018. Jackson, a junior, racked up 47 tackles, 14.5 TFLs and a team-leading nine sacks. Garvin, a sophomore, amassed a career-best 54 tackles, 16 TFLs and 5.5 sacks.

Simpson came to UM after spending one season with the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons as a defensive assistant. He also spent the 2016 season as assistant head coach/defensive line at Georgia State. Simpson joined the college ranks after a decorated career as head coach at Buford (GA) High School, where he won seven state titles and posted a remarkable 164-12 record over 12 seasons.

Rumph will continue in his role as cornerbacks coach after another outstanding season by his unit. Senior Michael Jackson, Sr., was named a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award and earned honorable mention All-ACC honors, while sophomore Trajan Bandy earned third-team All-ACC honors with a career-high eight passes defensed and three interceptions.

The Hurricanes return to practice next week in preparation for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Wisconsin on December 27 at Yankee Stadium. Kickoff is 5:15 p.m. on ESPN.

While Miami announced a “national search” for a new DC just yesterday, the move to promote from within makes sense on the surface. Banda and Patke worked under Diaz for years, so they know the system, and the staff continuity will hopefully keep things rolling on the defensive side of the ball, and give each coach an even higher recruiting profile.

As far as Simpson is concerned, he’s older than Banda and Patke, and has worked at every level of the game with incredible success. He knows how to build and run a championship program from his legendary tenure at Buford (GA) HS, and Richt obviously values his opinion.

Congratulations to Ephraim Banda, Jonathan Patke, and Jess Simpson on their promotions.

Now, let’s get back to recruiting and build the next version of a great Miami Hurricanes Defense.

Go Canes